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Vitamin C is widely known for its antioxidant benefits and its ability to boost the immune system. But there is another compound, not so well known and present in a variety of food, called 'Quercetin', which has all the benefits mentioned before and even different ones. This is a nutrient that we should know.
In this blog, we will learn a little more about this natural element, what it is, why it is advantageous for our health and where it can be found.
What is Quercetin?
It is an important flavonoid widely present in nature and representing more than 60% of the total flavonoids consumed by people. Flavonoids are the pigments that give color to certain flowers, fruits, grains and vegetables, and they are divided into several groups.
Quercetin belongs to one of these groups, called flavanols. It stands out for being a powerful antioxidant, but it has many other properties beneficial for the health and disease prevention. It is not produced by the body, but can be provided by diverse foods or supplements.
What is Quercetin Good For? - Key Benefits
Quercetin is a fantastic nutrient very beneficial for the body. Health benefits attributed to this compound, when it is supplied on a regular basis, include:
1. Antioxidant Properties
'Antioxidants' are the molecules in charge of free radicals elimination, which are highly reactive chemical agents that attack the body cells, increase the risk of get diseases, and accelerate the aging process.
Quercetin has a great antioxidant power (greater than Vitamin C and Vitamin E), so it protects the human body from free radicals. Consequently, it protects the body from the harmful effects of the deterioration of cellular structures, delaying aging and preventing the appearance of malignant tumors.
Thanks to this property, Quercetin helps prevent neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's or Parkinson's disease, which are the product of oxidative stress.
2. Inflammation Reducer
Quercetin prevents acute and chronic inflammations. Its antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory properties help to improve diseases such as arthritis, colitis and Crohn's disease.
It is usual to resort to it in conditions such as prostate inflammation and other problems of the urinary system.
"It is used for a long time in the Chinese traditional medicine and the cosmetic industry under the form of plant extracts” - J. González-Gallego
3. Against Allergy Symptoms
Some studies suggest that this nutrient might be a good antihistamine.
Histamine is a chemical mediator present in allergic conditions such as asthma, allergic rhinitis, eczema. Quercetin works by stabilizing the cells membranes that release histamine. Thus, it could be a support in the treatment of ailments such as asthma and bronchitis.
4. Risk Reduction of Contracting Cancer
This compound is under investigation to confirm its benefits against cancer. It is believed that Quercetin is capable of slowing down the growth of cancer cells and to eradicate defective cells.
"The anti-cancer effects of Quercetin include its ability to promote the loss of cell viability, apoptosis and autophagy" - Marjorie Reyes-Farias
Among other reasons, it could be due to its antioxidant properties that prevent the development of malignant tumors.
5. Reduction Of Cardiovascular Disorders
Taking this flavonoid can reduce high blood pressure in patients who have cardiovascular diseases.
Other research shows that Quercetin prevents the oxidation of the LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) cholesterol molecule and its adherence to the arterial walls.
This causes a decrease in the level of bad cholesterol and an improvement in blood flow through the arteries.
6. Infections Prevention
Foods rich in Quercetin are considered natural antibiotics. Antibacterial properties are attributed to this flavonoid, especially against bacteria related to the digestive system, the respiratory system, the urinary system, and the skin.
In addition, Quercetin is also recognized for its antiviral properties and its ability to fight some kinds of viruses.
There is even research that is trying to demonstrate its efficacy as an antiviral to treat SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic, based on the fact that this flavonoid has already been shown to be successful in treating other viruses such as Ebola and Zika.
Quercetin + Vitamin C
Vitamin C is known as an essential anti-oxidant and immune system enhancer. An insufficiency of vitamin C leads to severe injuries to multiple organs, especially to the heart and brain.
The consumption of Quercetin in combination with Vitamin C presents benefits and a synergy that increases the effectiveness of both compounds.
This combination allows the enhancement of quercetin regeneration and increases the levels and speed with which it accesses the bloodstream.
“There is evidence that Vitamin C and Quercetin co-administration exerts a synergistic antiviral action due to overlapping antiviral and immunomodulatory properties and the capacity of ascorbate to recycle quercetin, increasing its efficacy” – Ruben Colunga
In addition, taking these substances together increases the absorption of Vitamin C and slows its elimination from the body. Both compounds share properties such as controlling allergy symptoms as well as being powerful antioxidants.
Some experts also recommend the combination of quercetin with bromelain, which is a digestive enzyme that also has anti-inflammatory properties. This combination with bromelain is usually found in supplements.
How To Take Quercetin?
As it is already mentioned, this flavonoid is found in a variety of plant foods. Among them, the richest foods with this nutrient are tea (white, green and black), fruit berries, and onions (especially red onion, in which this compound represents 10% of its dry weight).
Of all berries, Elderberries are very rich in Quercetin, though all other berries such as blueberries, also contain substantial amounts of this nutrient.
These products combine the benefits of these fruits as they contain Quercetin in combination with Vitamin C (ideal when taken in combination, as already mentioned) and Zinc. There are studies that recommend the use of Quercetin, Vitamin C, Bromelain and Zinc for the treatment of respiratory tract infections, including COVID-19 disease.
How Much Quercetin Should I Take?
Experts suggest a daily intake between 800 and 1000mg of this compound. It is hard to get that amount just from food every day because the average person consumes 10–100mg of it daily through various food sources. Therefore, they recommend the use of supplements.
Quercetin is a safe substance to consume and has no side effects and is free of toxicity. Even so, as usual, consultation with a specialist is recommended for people who are under treatment with certain antibiotics (especially ciprofloxacin and erythromycin) or drugs for liver function.
Caution is also recommended during periods of lactation and pregnancy.